Two weeks ago I visited the 2016 edition of the European Maker Faire in Rome.
The Rome fair can be reached easily with the train that goes between Rome center (mostly Tiburtina station) and the airport of Fiumicino. The whole fair has ten pavilions, and the Maker Faire managed to fill six of them with all kinds of exhibitors, stands, shops and conference rooms.
Each of the pavilions had a theme:
- 5: Move: it contained the drone arena and mostly robots.
- 6: Life: solutions for the environment and health.
- 7: Interaction: Electronics, IoT, home automation, virtual reality.
- 8: Fabrication: mostly 3D printing.
- 9: Young makers: everything to inspire curiosity into kids and enable them to become makers.
- 10: Short-circuits: this pavilion has big conference rooms for big talks.
I spent the first day exploring all the stands and the exhibitions. There were two kinds of stands: blue for enthusiasts and red for businesses and associations.
The faire hosted a competition called R.O.M.E. Prize, where the invention with the most social impact would win 100.000EUR in funding. The winner was a glove that translated sign language into words, called “Talking Hands”. Some of the other projects were, such as a 3D-printed incubator for newborn babies, or a smart toothbrush. Other were more curious, such as a toy for dogs that can be controlled by an app.
3D printing was everywhere. There was an enormous printer from WASP that could extrude entire houses. There were metal printers, professional printers, portable, triangular, and so on. I attended a talk from Olivetti about their printers for industry and for education.
Robotics played a big part of the exhibitions, with autonomous vehicles, humanoid robots and drones.
The stands were full of ideas for the Internet of Things. Home automation such as the Casa Jasmina, smart plug from PoWaHome, and µPanel, a common web interface for all the sensors and actuator at home; wearable electronics, social gardening such as CloudGarden, hardware platforms such as UDOO or Fishino. I also attended a talk given by Marco d’Itri called “The Internet of other people’s things” on the dangers of connecting everything, in terms of reduced functionality (when the servers go offline or the companies discontinue the products), when you are giving away your sensitive data for free, and when malicious hackers can exploit weaknesses to perform cyber attacks and steal information.
All in all, it has been a wonderful weekend, and the faire really gave the makers the opportunity to share their work, exchange ideas, build connections and leap forward.